According to the latest situation report, the epidemic is responsible for 6,915 reported deaths. However, cases and deaths as a result of ebola have been and continue to be under-reported. Although infection rates continue to fluctuate in Guinea and have increased in Sierra Leone, the number of new cases has declined in Liberia.
All three intense-transmission countries have increased their capacity to provide medical care for EVD patients, although there remain serious difficiencies in rural areas. This means that many health facilities in rural areas do not have full isolation and treatment capabilities. In some cases, community care centers have few resources necessary for treatment of patients. As a result, patients in some rural areas would need to travel long distance in order to received treatment.
The good news is that one key goal has been met. There are currently 225 safe burial teams trained and in place. Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia now all have capacity to safely bury all reported EVD-related fatal cases (although there remain distributional problems that result in lack of capacity in some districts). This is a fundamental factor in halting the spread of ebola.
The new objectives for the UN Mission for Ebola Emergemcy Response is to isolate and treat 100% of EVD cases and provide safe burial for 100% of EVD related fatal cases by January 1, 2015.
Finding information about the coordinated response by both international and local actors remains difficult. Little information about budgets, and the disbursment of monies is difficult to come by. However, for those of us ghouls how have not only humanitarian, but academic interest in the response efforts, the interaction between state and international actors in responding to the epidemic has provide intriguing. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon made his first visit to the affected region over the weekend. On Saturday, Ban stated that the UN emergency ebola response mission (UNMEER) should be wound down quickly once the epidemic was halted. He specifically compared UNMEER to UN peacekeeping and the need to keep UNMEER temporary.
While Ban argued that if ebola was not controlled within a year then the mission may be considered a failure, the politics behind the message is also interesting. Why begin discussing winding down the international mission while the rate of new infections continues to fluctuate? The statement may be an indication of the broader politics of global infectious disease responses --- sovereignty concerns in intense-transmission states, funding concerns by donors, reluctance to take responsibility and funding shortfalls in IOs.